Today, the City of Hamilton Audit Committee released their final rulings on the requests from citizens for audits of election expenses of some sitting Councillors and candidates.
They found that five of the re-elected councillors did in fact contravene the Municipal Elections Act of Ontario.
The Committee exercised its 'discretion' to not proceed with any action despite finding contraventions of the act had taken place. More bluntly, they chose to do nothing despite declaring the law to have been broken.
It's upsetting to read that a committee, charged with investigating provisions of the Municipal Elections Act upon citizen request (and only upon citizen request), chose the path of inaction. It's a strange thing to hear a group of people actively acknowledge election laws have been broken and then decide that the correct course is to simply do nothing.
I hope that those who filed the requests to the committee seek to appeal to the Ontario Court of Justice, as is their right.
Appreciating the need for action:
Also released today was a list of expenses from Councillor Jackson's contentious and pricy $24,000 worth of 'Election Day/Volunteer Appreciation' funds.
This list is a compilation of items that Jackson purchased using funds raised that were well above his campaign fundraising limit to then give out to 110 of his volunteers. Some gems amongst them:
- $3,500 in Milestones gift cards (classy)
- $1,553 in LCBO gift cards and liquor
- Six bottles of $55 wine
- $200 gift card at Rosseau House, (classier)
- $300 wine basket from Rosseau House
- $2,100 in Tim Horton's gift cards
- $453 worth of Saxon chocolate truffles from the Shopping Channel (classiest)
While I'm not impressed by the actions of Mr. Jackson; I'm even less so with the members of the committee.
The Elections Audit Committee, in finding that Councillor Jackson broke the law said their finding was "namely with respect to the allocation of the voting day party expenses."
Yet they decided the best course of action was no course of action.
The members of the Elections Audit Committee need to take a long, hard look at themselves and the decisions they've made in their capacity as committee members. This is not how you make Hamiltonians confident that their politicians are accountable to them.
It's the exact opposite.